“Painting is easy when you don’t know what you’re doing, but very difficult when you do.” – Edgar Degas
Here is week 5 in the challenge. This song comes out of what I think everyone has gone or is going through. Words are many things, but the hardest ones are ones left unspoken.
Words D.Brint, April 10, 2021
Words are fickle things, the easy way they fall from our lips
And words can be heavy things, smooth and dark as a stone on the tongue
Words are wasted things, tossed like pennies in a shallow pool
Or locked down deep inside, till the last breath from our lungs
Words can come too late, thinking we have the time
To voice the things that’s in our hearts
To say the things we meant to say
And I am here, but you’re not here to hear the words I have for you
They’re grounded like wounded bird
Whose colours have turned to grey
Easter weekend kept me pleasantly distracted with my family bubble, and a good long walk on Newcastle Island with Bob and Sequoia. I am utterly fortunate to have this huge forested island provincial park right next to my little island. It’s accessible only by boat and especially in the off season we can have the whole place to ourselves. Newcastle is several hundred hectares with well defined trails that follow its coastline with spectacular vistas out across the Strait of Georgia, and also inland trails around its interior lake.
I’ve found plenty of photographic inspiration walking along the low tide line over the large, long stretches of creased, smooth, sculpted sandstone. On this walk however we came to a small bay on the North side that was discovered on a previous hike to have a most precious beach made of masses of small stones, each entirely different from the other, appearing as jewels. Perhaps glaciation made this area different than the other bays, and we sat on the beach gently stroking over the smooth rocks, picking out ones that spoke to us to bring home. Found art at its finest.
On a culinary note, The coloured easter eggs I had made for my tiny scavenger became deviled eggs the next day. Kind of excited about it. I’ve made them only once before in my life, and I’m thinking why once?! Old school, yes, but they are Delicious! Cheers!
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess
This doctor gives great advice! Why do some of us ( Um, me ) have a tendency to shrink ourselves for the sake of being concerned what others will think ? I love it when I meet people that have moved on from the opinions of “others,” they are a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to be around.
I believe this 4th song in my challenge constitutes as a Ditty, in that it’s short, simple (and I think, a little cute). The inspiration for it came when my husband was reading inscriptions from his parent’s wedding guest book from 1948 the other day. Reg, just home from WW2, and Florence, a young accomplished bagpiper, were both born and raised and living in Parry Sound Ontario, where they remained after marrying, raised their children, and died in old age. Some of the entries in the guest book, I’m yours until butter flies, and, Yours until the kitchen sinks, written by their friends piqued my sweetness bone and I thought, why not a song with those play on words? So I did.
I’m Yours D.Brint April 4, 2021
From the moment my eyes fell upon your face
Is the moment I knew my heart had found its place
My world stopped the day you took my hand
Birds sang, flowers bloomed, there was peace upon the land
I’m yours till butter flies, until the bed springs
Till thunder storms and Niagara falls
Until tulips kiss and the kitchen sinks
When hot dogs bark and the barn dances
As the years gather and the road behind us long
There’ll be no doubt in our hearts it’s here where we belong
I wouldn’t change a thing in this life I have with you
And I count my blessings it’s me you took a shine to
I’m yours till butter flies, until the bed springs
Till thunder storms and Niagara falls
Until tulips kiss and the kitchen sinks
Till hot dogs bark and the barn dances
I’ve been taking early morning walks for over a year now. I love that time of day; full of potential and promise. Many times the walks become photo sessions when the lighting is magnificent, and the colour so enchanting, I can’t help myself. And, since my early retirement a few years ago, mornings have become more special, not having to rush out the door at seven a.m. (Really love that I don’t have to jump into my boat and into a dark, wet, November-January storm at seven a.m. anymore!) The early morning is when I feel most introspective, creative, and inspired, my energy is engaged. During my working life I would get up an hour early just so I could have that time to journal and think, and it seemed too soon I was off to the races and a busy day.
It’s also a time I love to be alone, undisturbed, no distractions. I’m married, (30 years!) and it is rude to ignore one’s spouse upon waking. And there is breakfast to make, and dishes to do. Luckily I’m partnered with a lovely man who understands that when I return from my walk, (accompanied now with my four legged companion, Squilly) and before yoga and breakfast, I love to sit bundled up on the front porch with a cup of coffee (yes, it’s been possible to do this all winter on Vancouver Island) and write my morning pages and plan my day. A luxury, I know, and it doesn’t go unappreciated, or is taken for granted.
For this post I’m sharing some photographs from my morning walks. Currently I use an iPhone 8 and I use the edit tool to achieve my interpretation of what I see. Never filters. How many sunrise photos does one need to take? Apparently a lot. Here are a few. It’s been cool to watch the sun’s tracking over the winter too, coming back from far south of me, over the pulp mill Harmac, and moving towards the North end of Gabriola Island, as seen in the bottom right, taken yesterday morning. Happy Easter ~
“What do I want to express? The subject means little. The arrangement, the design, colour, shape, depth, light, space, mood, movement, balance, not one or all of these fits the bill. There is something additional, a breath that draws you into its breathing, a heartbeat that pounds on yours, a recognition of the oneness of all things.” – Emily Carr
It’s the unknowable knowing, that “something” that speaks to us with a volition of its own and completes the dialogue between muse and recipient. Emily’s words capture this eloquently.
A childhood event was the inspiration here. The idea for this song was initially different than what actually came out when I began writing, and it came in one day. Interesting how the writing process works, like the of writing a story that seems to take on a life of its own, sometimes it dictates what will be written despite your intention. I’m including the lyrics under the videos now, thanks to a suggestion from a follower.
Susan was new to the neighbourhood, we walked to school
Picking oranges from a grove marked for demolition
She had no mother, lived with her dad,
Grade five, California, 1967
He was never home until the end of the day
But Susan had her own key to the front door
And she wasn’t allowed to play down the street
I guess it was his way to see her safe and secure
I’d go to her house most day’s after school
We’d eat captain crunch and watch national velvet
Or turn the radio up loud and make up crazy dances
Doing our best to imitate Elvis
I remember a pool table stood where a dining table should be
And stacks of country albums in rows on the floor
I remember her dad and his short, black, shiny hair
And the cans of beer he bought from the corner liquor store
We started out as friends but for reasons I didn’t understand
She became cruel and condescending
I became the target of her hurtful remarks
By the time the school year was ending
By summertime a white moving van parked in front of her house on the road
And I saw men carry out the pool table, and boxes of everything they owned
I could see Susan in the passenger seat of the station wagon
Her dad beside her at the wheel
She never looked or waved at me standing, stared straight ahead
never let on how she feels about
Leaving another home, leaving another town,
leaving another school, leaving another friend
I took my mugs off to be bisque fired on Sunday, and I’m also looking forward to trying out some underglaze pastel crayons I bought, along with an underglaze pencil. Unlike liquid underglazes, to use crayons and pencils the clay must have been bisque fired first to make the surface hard enough to work on; so I left a couple of mugs and a vase plain as samples to practice on.
I don’t have a kiln at home, but my artist/potter neighbour down the road does. We’ve worked out an arrangement that benefits us both. So I pack up my work in a bin and run it over to her place either with the help of a girlfriend with a car, or load it into my wheelbarrow. ( Reminder, I live on a tiny island.)
The week’s also been spent settling in with our new dog Sequoia, a Boarder- Heeler cross and an amazingly smart girl! She’s taken to her new home like a champ, and is a perfect fit for us! It’s been twenty years since we lost our last dog, a Schipperke named Smokey. He also was an awesome little guy who came to us at three years old from the local SPCA. Took to our family as if he was born to us. Still miss him.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with my Sunday Original Song Challenge, although having headaches with consistent posting of the videos via Youtube! I thought I had the wrinkles ironed out, only to find another wrinkle. None-the-less, they’ll get posted each Sunday. So far this song challenge is becoming rather cathartic for me; different from just journaling and Morning Pages.
Today the sun is shining, a beautiful spring day, and beckons me outside to think over the vegetable garden plot and its preparations to be made, and to play in the yard with my hound 🙂 ~
I may be having issues posting videos to the Sunday Song Challenge. Not sure if this last one worked. It always shows on my site, and I check it on my husbands iPad to confirm if it comes up on another computer. Last night it was there- this morning it wasn’t, nor on my iPhone, so not sure what’s going on as I did the same procedure when I posted two previous videos successfully…?
So bear with me, and I appreciate any feedback concerning trouble viewing the clip 🙂 Ah technology ~~
“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Just do it.” Kurt Vonnegut
The work is important in that it isn’t “Important.” It’s all in the doing. Watch a toddler with paper and paint. She creates like it’s the most natural thing to do, and isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is and of course it doesn’t matter how it “Looks.” A toddler doesn’t care, she is absorbed in the moment, and as adults looking on we don’t care either. It’s beautiful, whatever it is they’ve made, it’s genius. Let’s be that!
Just finished the second song in the challenge! I was soooo busy this week with family (my bubble) and lots of activity, I was worried I wouldn’t get a song down before today. Worked all day yesterday on it, starting by just writing on a theme to see what would come out, then carved out some stanzas. This is a real challenge. The songwriting process is fascinating, even if the results are not. For instance this song went through a massive transformation in one day. I had an entirely different meter going, and longer lyrics. Then I tried putting a melody to it, and was having some, well, a lot of, difficulty; more I think because my guitar playing is rudimentary, to be generous. It’s ok to keep it simple! I’ve heard songwriters when interviewed asked the question; ‘what comes first the lyric or the melody?’ I think I’ve discovered I must begin with the melody and fit the lyric to it.
Pathless Road, D Brint 2021
Spent a long time passing through rooms that led down dark hallways
Through doors leading nowhere, no direction to guide me
I’m as rootless as a cloud
My heart in my hand, collecting broken pieces I thought I could mend
Pathless road don’t own me
Don’t lead me astray, and make it hard to find my way
Finding footholds made of sand and shifting stone
My hands remained empty, in the end I stood alone
Not every smile is a home
Nothing to give, but still wanting more
Pulling blood from a stone
My heart felt squandered and misused, desired for meaning
Questions unanswered, barely left beating
Then I touched down
To ground unmoving, and arms embracing
A heart’s that’s true.
This week was spent in the full gratitude of the gifts in my life. Not that each week, each moment, isn’t, but there are times when it is overflowing. When I can look at my life, and those in my life, and wonder how so much has unfolded in a most fortunate way. My path wasn’t a clear and informed one, more a bumbling, meandering one loaded with naiveté, where things could’ve gone sideways at several junctures over the years, but somehow I got lucky and landed in the embrace of grace and fulfillment. And most important is the deep thankfulness that those who were subjected to share my bumpy road have excelled, I’m looking at you Z & J, and thrive in spite of the challenges, and who give me my greatest inspiration. I am revelling in their triumphs.
To add to the gifts, I have acquired a dog. A re-homing of my daughter’s one year old boarder collie/blue heeler cross who is named Sequoia, but goes by Squilly. She’s a beauty; gentle and intelligent. My daughter and her husband’s busy life couldn’t give her the attention she needed right now, so she’s come to my little island and made herself quite to home. The timing was perfect, I had begun to look for a four legged addition to our home, and Bob and I had already fallen in love with Squilly from previous visits, and taking her would keep her in the family, so it was a good fit for all concerned.
And spring is here with its wind, clouds, sun, rain (all in one day), the promise of growth and abundance and preparing the garden for planting, something I look forward to each year. My mugs are off to the bisque fire, I’ve got a song to nail down, and I’m putting together some ideas to open my studio in May to my neighbourhood, and begin to sell some of my work. This is more an incentive to encourage me to continue to be productive, if at least to fund the material so I can continue my studio work.
“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O’keeffe is one of my favourite artists. And I also admire her character, she was so much her own person. And I love this quote for its forthright grounding in reality. Drop the pretence, the striving, and contortions to grab the proverbial gold ring, it’s only a mirage. Simply make your unknown known. Then take a long solitary walk in the foot hills of Taos. (ah, if only)
Ok, here goes, first song of the challenge. I’m not sure if I have the kinks ironed out regarding posting videos on my blog. My first attempt failed yesterday and I pulled the post because the video wouldn’t display, and please let me know if there is an issue on your end. ( Thanks Marilee! ) This is a project I have been wanting to launch for some time; I’ve challenged myself with an overly ambitious exercise to write one original song a week, for as many weeks as I can, and post it. This might, no, I’m certain, will result in some lame ass material, so, goofy or not, you’re welcome to watch me fumble through.
This song is in response to the front line workers over the past year. Seven Bells is 7 pm when we all went out on our balconies and decks to give our thanks ~
HERO’S D. Brint, 2021
In the light that’s slowly fading, over empty city streets
Another shift is starting, shuffled in on tired feet
And they’re close to collapsing, from long hours on the line
And they crave what their heart’s thirsting
Just an end to these hard times
Marches and angry hollers, holding out their flags of doom
Their rhetorics hard to swallow, while we drown in this monsoon
But the giving that you’re giving, all the hearts that you have won
What will shine as bright as ever, is the work that you have done
A mother without her child, a husband without his wife
Behind these walls they’re exiled, In their last moments of life
And it’s you who held their hand, when no one could be there
We’re walking through a wasteland
Littered with our thoughts and prayers
Seven Bells called us out of hiding
With shouts of praise, this war that you’re fighting
Sound the drum for the bullets that you’re biting
You’ll walk the boulevard as hero’s
Completed under-glazing my mugs. Each one different; seems I can’t repeat myself. Well, I have a couple of fruit motifs, but It would certainly be a faster process if I had set pattern or motif for all my mugs. But no. Too boring. Every piece is pondered over, held, and stared at for many, many (ahem, many) minutes before I make a mark. But, I am still exploring the process too, so I want to try different things. I’m playing with rubbing off some of the colour, and using sgraffito, and loving the process. I use a limited palette; Red, Blue, Yellow, Black, white, and for fun, turquoise. I can mix pretty much all the colours I need with Primary colours, and it’s cost effective too.
Underglazes are similar to working with water colour or acrylics, and so versatile in expression. The only tricky part is the applied colours change somewhat in the final firing so I’m never positive how the end product will look. It’s a surprise when the kiln is opened. Fingers crossed the final firing comes out well, a lot of head scratching went into each piece!
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Pablo Picasso
So much depends on just showing up to the canvas, the page, the wheel. Picking up the instrument. Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art has a great quote by the playwright Somerset Maugham that nails it.
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Even if it means sitting and staring at the canvas, the page, etc, for an hour and a half, you show up. This is such an important key to tapping into the creative process, not to wait for inspiration or the right “mood,” but to show up, ready and open. Even it’s to stare into space for an hour, I’m here and ready. And If I become tired of staring then I start, make some move, to engage, and even if it’s crap, something may very well come out of it. If not, that’s ok, tomorrow I’ll be back at the “desk”. Same time same place.
I mentioned in a previous post I was working on a non fiction short story to submit to the CBC competition for a deadline of midnight Sunday, February 28. On Saturday I worked all day on it, a lot of final editing; moving whole paragraphs, and after I felt it was what I wanted I recorded it. I do this so I can hear back how it ‘moves’. On Sunday morning when I opened the story I discovered all the editing I did the day before wasn’t there, I must have forgotten to hit the save button, although I do remember saving it. sigh. But thankfully I had a recording. I listened to it and wrote it down, but didn’t have time to get to the submission page; my son and family came for the day, until 8:30. As soon as they left I was back at the computer to tidy the story and do a final read through. By 11:00 I went to the submitting page. It wasn’t there. Then I realized the midnight deadline was Eastern Time. Arrrrrrrgh! Which translates to Nine O’clock pacific time. Drat. Consolation? It will be ready for next time.
Then I spent two and half days doing what I shall refer to as Tech days. And it doesn’t pertain to anything creative, but did well to demonstrate the elasticity of my patience! I’ll just say it involved buying a new device to upgrade our long time woeful internet speed from 1.05 to 25, and also bought an upgraded streaming device, (two of my streaming subscriptions would no longer work on the old device) and long phone sessions with a few different providers. And some more Arrrrgh. But good to go now.
Ok, wiping my hands of all that business. Back to the studio ~
“To be a creator is to invite others to load their slingshots with rocks of disparagement and try to shoot you down,”
Grant Faulkner from his article, Overcoming Creative Wounds
Everyone’s got an opinion. We are hard wired for critical thinking, judging, assessing. It’s part of our survival mechanism, part of our Fight or Flight response. Reactions and judgements to something new or different that saved our skin, prehistoric and modern. Will this hurt me? Can I use/eat this? What the hell is that!? But in some cases it’s just jealously. Some don’t want to see you do something innovative or unique- because they didn’t think of it first!
Of course the antidote is to push through, deflecting the slings and arrows and to carry on. Easier said than done though ~
Time for a fresh blog-site look, like a new spring wardrobe, a makeover, spring cleaning of sorts. Open the windows let the breeze in and sweep away the musty fustiness.
I spent the week under-glazing mugs, and still working to finish them, and also took a drive up island, to Coombs market to buy corn tortillas. Yes, it’s a thirty minute drive, perhaps too long for a tortilla. But they make them fresh and plentiful stacked in a bag. And it was as good excuse as any to get out on a fine day for a drive. Like a vacation, something we see little of these days, but I’ll take it- humble as it is.
And visual stimulation is key. I need it. I am surrounded by trees on a tiny island and sometimes a long drive to anywhere sets things right. A long drive is like an “Artists Date” for me. An opportunity to reload with a bit of new stimulus. Images and sensations flood my visual field, my mind can wonder, yes even while behind the wheel. You know that sensation, the hum of the road, your eyes can stretch in all directions as can your mind, you’re on automatic pilot. Many people get their best ideas while driving.
What also works for me is walking around a downtown, an urban centre. In fact that is my favourite way to load up on stimulus, ideas, material. My downtown of Nanaimo isn’t much, although we have a population of nearly one hundred thousand, we have one old quarter street of any interest. (oops, I’m not being a good ambassador). The rest of the city’s development flows north in a series of malls along a four lane highway. Not lovely. But there is Victoria, an hour and a half away, and of course Vancover, a ferry ride away. These cities I love to wonder through.
Back to Coombs and the market. They didn’t have any tortillas. Next week the sales girl said. Deflated, but undeterred because next to the market in a rustic wooden a-frame is Billy G’s fresh gourmet donuts. Talking small batch.Totally not what we came for but it took the pout off our lips. Fresh donuts are magic. We bought six, which you can’t see in the photo because they are stacked, and in reality was four too many, but how can you not want to try dulce yum-yum or pineapple coconut rum, or strawberry delight, or that one with salted caramel inside?
A side note: The Coombs market is known for their goats that graze on the roof shown behind the box of Yumminess. Unfortunately, it’s too early in the season, so no goats on the roof in this shot. And not many people either. That will change when the weather warms up. Masked and social distanced of course!
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
I think this is one of my favourite quotes, and what I struggle with constantly. Being self- conscious, over-thinking, when I really want abandon. Abandon at the canvas, abandon at the page, abandon in singing. I recognize when I’m hesitating, when self consciousness tightens its strangle hold. And I recognize the antidote: To act! No matter the outcome! Have the courage to suck, and suck some more! Dare to be lousy!
But then I get self conscious. Sigh.